By Brian Hansford, director of client services & marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing
Heinz Marketing last week hosted an exclusive breakfast for Seattle’s top B2B marketing leaders featuring Tony Jaros, SVP of Research from SiriusDecisions. Tony’s presentation shared detailed and innovative ideas for “Turning B2B Readers in Revenue” in B2B marketing.
Tony Jaros is the thought leader who developed the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall.
Here’s an overview of Tony’s presentation on guidance and research to help B2B marketers better focus their content efforts to engage customers and drive revenue.
The Frightening Numbers of 93 and 60.
Tony shared that SiriusDecisions estimates 60-70% of B2B content goes unused. The last 4+ years of content marketing has encouraged marketers to produce massive volumes of content, often without a focus on quality. B2B marketers in particular love to throw out the platitude of “content is king” without producing the right content. Content volume creates problems, especially when it’s noise and goes unused. Tony shared a statistic presented by global enterprise CDW at a recent SiriusDecisions conference. CDW shared that during a recent project to consolidate 3 sales portals into one, they discovered that 93% of all content produced on stored in the portals went unused. 93%. How much of your org’s content goes unused?
As B2B marketers we all need to think about the content we produce. Is the focus on the activity of producing and publishing content? Or, is the the right content produced for the right scenarios? Volume and activity do not lead to results. Before stating ‘content is king” yet again, think about what that means to your customers and how content will be used. Jaros states, “Some content may be relevant a little bit to some and irrelevant to most.”
Get Targeting Religion
Tony advises that B2B orgs greatly improve their targeting efforts. Targeting is not the same as developing personas. For example, simply focusing on organizations with over 500 employees, or over $500 million in revenues is not targeting. An org with 1,000 employees is very different than one with 10,000 employees. The users, influencers, and decision makers in the relative organizations will have fundamental differences that content must address. And above all “pivot from information about your company to content that helps your customers solve problems. Avoid product-based and inwardly focused content.”
This is heavy lifting. Research external market factors, trends, category spend, and competitive presence. Even more important are researching the internal factors such as the solutions delta between what customers need and the solution offered, internal domain expertise, messaging, sales readiness, and the marketing database. Tony shared a common B2B trap is starting a vertical industry effort. Yet, if the company doesn’t have internal domain experts and a database of only a handful of prospects or customers, the effort will fail. Tony states very simply, “producing volumes of content for broad targeting is a security blanket for ineffectiveness.”
What are Campaigns? (hint: an email or webinar is not a campaign!)
Time and again many B2B marketers state that an “email campaign” is launching. Typically that means a single email blast without any targeting or theme. Bottom line: that’s not a campaign. It’s a tactic that should support an overall campaign effort.
Campaigns are strategic, not tactical, and they run over a long period of time with a theme that is supported by a messaging framework. Most importantly, campaigns are targeted on the right audience. Tactics are streams that support the overall campaign strategy. Tony shared some suggestions for planning, executing, and measuring successful B2B marketing campaigns, which help steer overall content efforts.
1. Campaign Targeting
Target the market where internal and external factors are aligned. If there isn’t alignment on either internal or external factors, the market is not viable.
2. Campaign Strategy
Campaigns involve the targeting and incorporate a strategy, theme, and period of execution over a period of time with multiple streams of tactics. Campaigns run in 4 program families:
- Reputation – Build reputation and interest. Remember, companies can’t become ‘thought leaders’ in 2 weeks after one or two emails.
- Demand Creation – Sourcing and nurturing of demand based on theme.
- Sales Enablement – Help with progression of opportunities sourced by the campaign theme.
- Market Intelligence – Focus on getting it right before launching! Too many B2B marketers use MI use to explain what went wrong after the campaign.
3. Build a Content Factory Mentality
The use of “factory” shouldn’t imply producing volumes of unfocused content. Tony suggests that B2B marketers follow a three step process including Ideation, Activation, and Curation. Develop the ideas, publish through the right channels, identify the contributors and share openly. Focus the content on three stages of the B2B buying cycle such as education, solutions, selection. Tony shared that the ‘big doughnut hole’ for B2B orgs is with solutions content.
4. Content Operations
Activate the factory with operations that not only develops and produces meaningful quality content, but also collects feedback on whether it’s helpful or effective. A content audit is the starting point. To get to your “93” you need to closely evaluate and measure what is being used versus what is being produced. One of the best ways to find ideas for effective content is to declare a “day of amnesty” and ask for any and all of the content they have produced for their sales efforts. From the audit, content factory operations can identify the gaps where assets are needed.
5. Measuring Success
B2B marketers can focus efforts on content marketing by measuring content utilization, content production time, impact to sales via metrics captured from marketing automation platforms.
Content efforts are strategic and challenging. The right plan and operations will help convert your B2B readers into customers and revenue.
Heinz Marketing greatly appreciates Tony Jaros and SiriusDecisions sharing these ideas. How are you turning your B2B readers into revenue?